Cue the Battle Hymn of the Mommy Wars. That was my first thought when I saw the cover of this week's Time magazine, which features a 26-year-old mom breastfeeding her almost 4-year-old son.
Rather defiantly, I might add.
Though the little boy looks like he's kind of in a hurry to get back to his Thomas the Tank Engine set, so, if it's all the same to you Mommy, can I just have a juice box instead?
Just in case the headline "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?" isn't enough of a tip-off:
The article inside is all about attachment parenting and how it "drives mothers to extremes" and how if you do it you're a complete freak and if you don't you're a complete failure and how the guy who started the whole thing, Dr. Bill Sears, has somehow become this combination messiah/dictator type figure (depending on your particular side of the fence).
I don't know the mom on the magazine cover. I don't know her kids. I don't know how attachment parenting is going to work out for them in the short or long term ... or how it does or doesn't work out for anybody else.
I can, however, tell you what attachment parenting was like for me.
As a 24-year-old new mom who'd been raised somewhat unconventionally, I fell for the whole attachment parenting philosophy hook, line, and sinker. Co-sleeping? Sure. Wear the baby everywhere in a sling? O-tay. Breastfeed on demand for as long as necessary? Sounds like a plan.
At the time, the concept felt very natural and organic and authentic. And it is.
But what I didn't realize back then was that the attachment parenting way also conveniently justified what I would come to recognize as my weakest parenting points: I'm terrible with setting boundaries (Of course, sleep in my bed!). I instantly blame myself when my kids are unhappy, which causes me to instantly give in (Don't cry, Mommy will take you out of the stroller and put you in the sling!).
All the Dr. Sears books and attachment parenting painted my flaws as virtues. So my kids were attached to me, all right (literally, more often than not), as babies and toddlers. Which was okay, until they couldn't be attached to me anymore.
Attachment parenting went sour for me when things like preschool and drop-off birthday parties entered the equation. Separation anxiety? You could say my kids had some issues in that area. At that point, I started to wonder -- had I done them a disservice?
My kids are now 10 and 6. What's changed? Well, of course they're not attached to me anymore. But sometimes they still act like they have an all-access pass to Mom, and the problem with that is I'm still so burned out from those years of attachment parenting that I don't have the patience to deal. I need everybody to stay in their own beds, all night! Yes, I love you, but GO AWAY! And if I seem crabby, it's probably because the pinched nerve in my upper back that I got from carrying kids around in a sling for years is acting up.
What's your take on attachment parenting? Does it work for you?
Image via Time